Family Violence Intervention course responds to demand

A new course in Principles of Family Violence Intervention is helping add another tool to the professional toolkit of individuals working across health, education, social work and government policy.

Introduced this year at ARA Institute of Canterbury, 22 are enrolled for the first intake of the course led by Andrew Frost who has established similar post-professional qualifications in family violence prevention across Australia. “As expected, students come from a wide range of organisations and fields of practice, including government, child protection, NGOs, allied health, kaupapa Māori and women’s refuge,” he says.

One such student is Emma Crichton, who completed a Bachelor of Social Work degree from Ara in 2021 and now works as a Multi Systemic Therapy (MST) Therapist at Emerge Aotearoa.

“My mahi involves intensively working with whānau to keep their rangatahi in their homes, connected in school/programmes, out of the youth justice system and reducing concerning behaviors,” says Crichton.

She says she has worked with people who have experienced family violence, and those who are perpetrators of it, and sees a gap in the workforce for people with specific prevention training. She says she hopes to make a positive change in this field of work.

“There’s a lack of training and resources in Aotearoa, which doesn’t match up with the high numbers of family violence cases in Aotearoa. I’m looking forward to being able to share my knowledge with my team at Emerge Aotearoa and better support some of the whānau we work with,” Crichton says.

Frost has a wealth of knowledge establishing post-professional qualifications in family violence prevention, having already led a team to develop similar programmes across Australia, for Central Queensland University.

“My history of practicing, researching and teaching in the violence and abuse sector, reflects a heartfelt commitment to addressing these public health issues,” he says.

Due to the serious nature of the content of family violence prevention work, Frost says you need to be passionate about your career.

“Family violence has proved a uniquely stubborn and pernicious public health issue and social problem throughout the world. The enhancement of workforce capacity and capability in this sector is increasingly a policy priority for government, and Ara is excited to be a part of that with this new professional development offering.”

Elizabeth Schmidt, Head of Department of Applied Sciences and Social Practice at Ara says Ara’s course was created with significant industry consultation.

The consultation period confirmed the limited opportunities currently available to upskill in the area, as well as industry demand for flexible, accessible options.

Through working with kaupapa Māori service providers, it was decided that at its heart the course would have a whānau-centric approach, which explores connecting Māori aspirations to whānau safety, supporting and empowering whānau, and kaupapa-centric response strategies.

Part of this approach means students are invited on two wānanga, which provide the opportunity to develop whanaungatanga (kinship) among students and synergy in terms of teaching and learning.

“Networking is huge in our industry and forming these networking connections is always great. I look forward to the next wānanga and doing this micro-credential in general,” says Crichton.

Elizabeth Schmidt says the new micro-credential will open doors to other exciting possibilities.

“The intention is to develop a suite of micro-credentials to complement the current offering, providing further study opportunities for those wanting to extend their knowledge and skills in more specialised areas of family violence intervention.”

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